Guterres: Not to have equitable distribution of vaccines is a question of being stupid

Speaking at the launch of the World Health Organization’ (WHO) Strategy to Achieve Global Covid-19 Vaccination by mid-2022, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said, “not to have equitable distribution of vaccines is not only a question of being immoral, it is also a question of being stupid.”

Guterres, speaking via video teleconference from New York said “with vaccine production now at nearly 1.5 billion doses per month, we can reach 40 percent of people in all countries by year’s end – if we can mobilize some $8 billion to ensure that distribution is equitable. Because crucially, the success of this plan requires equitable distribution.”

“Without a coordinated, equitable approach, a reduction of cases in any one country will not be sustained over time. For everyone’s sake, we must urgently bring all countries to a high level of vaccination coverage. G20 countries have frequently spoken of their desire to get the world vaccinated. Their meeting later this month will be an opportunity to deliver.”

WHO Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said “we stand on the precipice of failure, if we don’t make the benefits of science available to all people in all countries, right now.”

The Strategy to help bring an end to “a horrifying inequity” aims to achieve the target of vaccinating 40 percent of the population of every country by the end of 2021, and 70 percent by the middle 2022.

Achieving these targets, Tedros noted “will require at least 11 billion vaccine doses. He said, “this is not a supply problem; it’s an allocation problem.”

WHO had set a target to vaccinate 10 percent of every country, economy, and territory by the end of September but by that date 56 countries had not been able to do so, the vast majority of these are countries in Africa and the Middle East.

The WHO Director General said “we call on countries with high vaccine coverage to swap delivery schedules with COVAX and AVAT, and to fulfil their dose-sharing pledges immediately.”

“We call on vaccine-producing countries to allow free cross-border flow of finished vaccines and raw materials, and to enable sharing of know-how, technology, and licenses. We call on vaccine manufacturers to prioritize and fulfil contracts with COVAX and AVAT as a matter of urgency, to be more transparent on what is going where, and to share know-how and non-exclusive licenses to enable all regions to increase manufacturing capacity.”

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